Handling Employee Complaints and Grievances

There are currently no dates scheduled for this course. For training enquiries please contact us on 03 8662 5333. Please note courses can also be tailored and delivered on-site.

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Does your business have in place an 'end-to-end' mechanism for assessing, handling and closing off complaints? Do all your supervisory staff understand when (and how) employee complaints must be escalated?

With the introduction of Adverse Action provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), handling complaints has resulted in an additional layer of complexity and risk for employers.

An employee's 'complaint' can now be considered to a 'workplace right'. An employee who believes they were treated adversely for making a complaint may pursue a claim against their employer.

Due to the requirements stemming from the current inclusions in the Fair Work Act alongside Equal Opportunity and other legislation, employers must ensure they have the knowledge, systems and processes in place to both prevent and deal with matters if and when required.

A number of recent cases across multiple jurisdictions have produced alarming outcomes demonstrating that employers are at risk if they are not fully equipped to assess and implement 'end-to-end' requirements when handling any complaints or grievances.

Notable findings of recent cases:

  • Reinforcement of Individual Managers liability for breaches
  • Endorsement that an employee complaint does not need to be to an external body or authority to invoke the protections of the 'Adverse Action' provisions
  • Findings of existing policies as deficient (and therefore the Company vicariously liable) due to a lack of specific legislative reference in an Equal Opportunity policy.
  • Individual Human Resource practitioners being "named and shamed" for their management of related disciplinary proceedings.

In addition to the existing requirements, the federal government recently announced plans to reform the legislation surrounding bullying.

Pending legislative changes currently include:

  • The opportunity for a worker who reasonably believes they have been bullied at work to make an application to the Fair Work Commission ("FWC") for an order to stop the bullying.
  • FWC will deal with the complaint within 14 days and will have regard to internal investigations regarding any complaint

Victorian Chamber has developed this briefing series to assist employers handle workplace complaints and grievances if and when raised by their employees. It is imperative employers not only understand how to deal with complaints and grievances, but that they also consider and adopt practical strategies to minimise their occurrence in the workplace.

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